Nikon’s history with mirrorless hasn’t been all that great. The Nikon 1 was a good idea, but badly executed. They weren’t very popular in either the low or high end markets, which is why they’re killing them off. Overall they have been largely disappointing when compared to the competition. Nikon’s President recently confirmed that a completely new Nikon mirrorless system is in the works.
A recent interview with Nikon R&D General Manager, Tetsuro Goto suggests that any new mirrorless camera coming from Nikon “must be full frame”. If true, this would be very cool. Nikon Rumors published a translation of the interview, Overall, it looks rather promising for the future of Nikon mirrorless.
The Interview suggests that a Nikon mirrorless camera would also be styled on something from Nikon’s past. Similarly to how Fuji’s range of mirrorless cameras resemble many of their older film models, too. Something along the lines of the Nikon S2.
I have considered many options. Mirrorless cameras can be made thinner body but without the mirror shutter sound and vibration are gone, although they can be simulated electronically. How to integrate these technologies and ideas is one thing, how to execute and to build products is another.
A thinner body would definitely be a big win as far as I’m concerned. One of the big advantages of Sony and Micro Four thirds systems is that the lens mounts so closely to the sensor. This means you get compatibility with an extremely wide range of lenses via the use of adapters. For my Nikon full frame bodies, pretty much all lens adapters for other systems require a corrective lens to retain infinity focus. A corrective lens that lessens the image quality.
A shorter distance between the lens mount and the sensor means that while it may have its own mount, it should still work, to some degree, with F mount lenses. Although possibly only AF-S and AF-P type lenses (like the Nikon D3x00 and D5x00 DSLRs).
Full frame is the trend. If Nikon will go mirrorless it must be full frame.
This, too, will be a fantastic advantage for Nikon mirrorless. It also suggests that if Nikon do bring out a mirrorless system, they’ll be looking to compete with Sony’s A7/9 lines, rather than cameras like the A6500. Whether full frame or crop, it wouldn’t bother me either way. I’d been considering the A6500 myself, but I certainly wouldn’t say no to a full frame Nikon mirrorless.
I’ve put off investing in mirrorless for such long time in the hopes that Nikon eventually get their act together. Last year I found myself in possession of a YI M1, and it’s not bad, but it’s not something I could use for regular professional jobs. For some work, I use (but don’t own) Sony A6300, A7II and A7RII cameras, and I’ve had a good play with the GH5. The temptation to dive into another system for video and lightweight stills work has been strong.
But it means investing in a whole bunch of new lenses and accessories. So, it’s not just the cost of picking up a new camera or two. This is why I’ve been holding out for Nikon. I’ve got more money sunk into Nikon lenses than I care to admit, and I don’t want to have to buy them all again for a different brand. Especially when I plan to keep shooting Nikon DSLRs.
We know that a Nikon mirrorless system is not a question of “if”, but of “when”. And if, as Goto suggests, it will be a full frame camera, then it gets me very excited for the future. I just hope it includes the video capabilities unlike the Nikon Df.
And speaking of the Df… The interview also contains some rather interesting information about the development choices of the Nikon Df, and its possible successor. A replacement model may come with the D5 sensor, or it might have the new 45.7MP sensor of the Nikon D850. Goto says, though, that sales of the existing Nikon Df would have to increase before a new model will be considered.
You can read the full translation of the Interview over on Nikon Rumors.